New Designers Talk: Empowering Creativity Through Entrepreneurship
Simon Belsham said he was ‘so blown away’ by the New Designers event and talked about Not on the Highstreet (NOTHS) as a company that is able to ‘take amazing talents and turn them into a reality.’ He said that ‘technology enables you and empowers you take your product globally and has changed the world we live in.’ Belsham gave an insight into NOTHS and said he often calls it ‘a modern day high-street’ that can bring the same philosophy from the past, as the actual high street used to be the centre for everyone in a community. NOTHS has 5000 small businesses and ships to around 150 countries around the world. It has turned 10-years-old being founded in 2006.
Not on the Highstreet is very ethical for both their partners and customers. Simon said they ‘call sellers our partners’ and ‘our customers trust us to select high quality products.’ Repeatedly he said the main factors of NOTHS is being ‘unique and different.’ NOTHS has a set of categories such as jewellery, food and drink, baby and child, and pet products which their partners’ products are based on. ‘Creativity is an opportunity’ especially as a whole country, ‘what makes Britain brilliant’, leading the world through creativity, which helps the UK grow. Simon wanted to highlight that NOTHS’ aim is to give people an opportunity to turn their talents into a career/business – and not just like a life style/hobby. Also, he said that ‘we want customers to fall in love with shopping again.’ This is because he believes that mass production has lost values and retail is commoditised, whereas NOTHS believe ‘to be a successful business and retail is to be different and that standing for something different is so important.’ Also, they recognise that now more than ever consumers ‘care about where things come from’ e.g information on the supply chain.
NOTHS has a Declaration of Interdependence, in which is the centre to the business. There is NOTHS – which champion the independent, the Consumer – make it matter and Partner – who lead through creativity.
- Bringing skills back into the community
- Creating an ecosystem that helps small creative businesses to thrive
- People more connected to products
- Empathetic to customers – very current
The ‘job is to connect people’, regardless of politicians, but rather to embrace change. Simon positively stated to ‘live the dream that you really want to live’ and ‘to be different – which is what makes you unique.’ This is alike to NOTHS themselves as a company is not like other websites and doesn’t have gifts like others.
Sally Bendelow said she felt ‘very connected’ to the show as a previous designer student. She explained in more depth about NOTHS and gave top tips behind how to be a unique designer.
How NOTHS supports partners and helps them grow?
- TV advertising
- Press, marketing and campaigns
- Making partners much more visible
- Consider the purchaser and the recipient – adapted to appeal to customers looking for gifts for particular occasions
NOTHS has a ‘broad spectrum of categories’ and a commercial team that run individual business then after hitting a scale mark, partners get an account manager. It is a ‘very serious business’ and the company also uses events and workshop platforms to connect partners and consumers.
Connecting and getting your product on NOTHS:
- TAG TALK – talk to people at head office – comes alive through communication being face to face
- ‘your story’ and ‘your product’ importance
- Connect with customers
- Community importance – valuable that partners work together
- Skill swaps, internet forum
What do NOTHS look for?
- The story – purpose and why – not just the what (the product)
- E.G Rachel Jackson – jewellery talent which she learnt from abroad – very successful, and Rachel sticks to her story
- Outstanding quality
- Unique selling point (USP) e.g cocktails into sweets – edible UNIQUE!
- Check the ‘QUALITY’ – not just products/materials but service
- Be ‘market aware’ e.g of competition e.g brand map – be clear of competition or if you’re different and filling a gap
- Strong photography – online business and mobile coming through quickly – life style shots, scale and cut out shots
- Over deliver on customer experience – speed of delivery is key particularly for gifting
- Personalisation – thoughtful
- Human contact – customer service and ability to talk to partners and help them with orders
- Positive emotion
How do partners cope with demands?
The knowledge/story/detail of the partner given to the customer, enables the customer to understand ‘the story and the time and effort it takes to produce the products’, in addition they support the challenges especially during busy time periods. Also, stock levels are shown to the partners to help partners understand what is popular and how often they are being purchased. ‘Cope with demands through skill swaps’.
Guidelines of being a partner
- Aren’t advised to sell products to other websites
- Cannot advertise personal website on NOTHS – which is said to be mutually beneficial – helps move the traffic to NOTHS
- The more exclusive to NOTHS a partner is the more it is marketed, although some sell elsewhere majority is pushed to be ‘exclusive’
- Products aren’t widely available
- 25% commission on all sales – in return they get community, technology, mind-set – valuable customers, targets, and trend info and events – provide to commercial teams and partners, as many partners usually don’t have time for research
- Working together for the customer
- Some products are more successful for short/long periods of time – ‘there is no time limit with products’ – I asked a question on what happens if a product isn’t selling and NOTHS said that they use their skill set to show the producer scales and graphs in order to show what sells and what doesn’t and the parallels between this
- NOTHS stated that they haven’t seen a partner ‘too big to leave the network for other channels’ and vice versa
By Shivanee Tailor